TARPON SPRINGS — But for a sluggish third quarter the host Spongers dominated Anclote in a 28-3 victory Friday night.
Michael Ford ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns, 68 of his yards coming in a drive to begin the fourth.
Tarpon jumped ahead 14-0 at half, held a resurgent Sharks team to a C.J. Peppe 39-yard field goal, then Ford took over. He broke off five runs of at least 9 yards on the drive that ended with his 3-yard plunge and a 21-3 lead.
“I feel like we can pound the ball like that all the time, and when we do we can’t be stopped,” Ford said.
Anclote fumbled away the next kickoff and Patrick Miller provided the final margin with a 3-yard score. Miller ran for 47 yards on eight carries.
Damarkus Jones had three sacks for the Spongers before leaving with a left knee injury. Jones said he felt at “80 percent” but predicted he’d suit up for the Spongers’ regular-season opener.
Tarpon held Anclote to minus-13 yards on the ground with workhorse back Willie Barrett needing two last-minute runs to finish on the positive side (10 yards on 12 carries).
The Spongers outgained Anclote 142-12 in the first half, but the Sharks turned it around in a third quarter, holding Tarpon to two three-and-outs while Tymere Carter caught fire. He caught four passes, one a leaping 34-yarder, in the third.
Carter finished with seven grabs for 114 yards.
Barrett led Anclote with seven tackles. Casey Luckinbill was right behind Jones in leading Tarpon Springs’ defense.
Spongers quarterback Jarrett Battyanyi completed his first six passes and ran for 21 yards. Montel Johnson had Tarpon’s other score, capping a 90-yard drive to start the game.
Sophomore Brandon Vinkler, called on to throw more in the second half after a modest 2-for-4 beginning, ended 12-for-21 for 144 yards.
Anclote didn’t get a first down until the second quarter. The Sharks tried to jumpstart things with a fake punt but Miller was there for the tackle.
Anclote dropped a 75-yard touchdown pass on the drive in which it ended up settling for three points.